Medical Marijuana in Florida
Florida is one step closer to making medical marijuana a legal reality after a ground-breaking win for a good, family man criminally charged with growing marijuana. It appears that citizens are finally taking a stand by refusing to convict someone on such ridiculous charges.
Jesse Teplicki was arrested in 2013 for growing marijuana in his home after police received an anonymous tip. Police found a grow house in his home, and 46 marijuana plants. He was arrested for cultivation and faced up to five (5) years in prison. The State offered him a plea deal of probation, but Mr. Teplicki turned it down and decided to fight the case as a matter of principle. He took his case to trial and the jury found him not guilty.
Mr. Teplicki has been using marijuana for over 30 years to treat a severe eating disorder that he has been battling for years. He said smoking marijuana stimulates his appetite and reduces nausea. He argued that growing marijuana was a medical necessity, and he shouldn’t be treated like a criminal simply for doing something that helped him manage a serious and painful medical condition.
Although “medical necessity” isn’t a formal legal defense to a crime, it’s refreshing to see that a jury used common sense and refused to convict someone for simply taking care of himself. After all, he wasn’t selling it or doing anything else illegal. He used it for his own purposes to treat a condition that other prescribed medications weren’t able to do. He wasn’t abusing it, and he wasn’t giving it to other people. Prison is for real criminals, not someone like Mr. Teplicki. Thankfully his jury agreed and used jury nullification to send a strong message to the government about charging good people with a serious crime just for growing pot.
The Florida Legislature is about to address the legality of medical marijuana with a Senate bill. If passed, the bill would allow doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana to treat patients with illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, etc. Certain medicinal marijuana is already legal in Florida, but only specific kinds. It’s no different than being prescribed other strong drugs, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, which are extremely addictive and have many negative side effects. So that is what makes his arrest and prosecution so ridiculous.
Hopefully, medicinal marijuana will become legal in Florida so honest people don’t get caught up in the criminal system. There is a strong opposition to making medicinal marijuana legal, mostly by the pharmaceutical companies who are making billions by getting people addicted to pills. They argue that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and will lead to other drug use. This is simply not true.
As a criminal defense firm, we see many clients get jammed up in the criminal system by becoming addicted to prescribed medications. Once addicted, they will do anything to get pills, including doctor shopping and stealing. However, it’s not the same for people using marijuana responsibly for medicinal purposes. Throwing people in jail for using a non-addictive, gentle treatment will not solve anything. Legalizing medicinal marijuana will only help the overall situation, and I look forward to the day people don’t have to live in fear of criminal prosecution.